CHANGING YOUR MINDSET
Written by: Joy Gallant.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D.
What does it take to be successful? I’m always asking myself this question because I am slightly obsessed with personal and professional development. I have a voracious appetite for any kind of learning that will help me be more successful. I randomly picked up this book at the library because of two important words in the title, psychology and success. I believe that what we make of our lives is entirely based on how we see our world, but little did I know how much I needed to change my frame of mind to be more open to how success is really created.
Carol Dweck is a psychology professor at Columbia who has been studying how people create and evaluate success in their lives for the better part of her career. She has distilled her research down to one main idea, your mindset. Either you believe that you can grow through failures to achieve success because you have moldable skills (a growth mindset) or you believe you have a fixed set of skills and intelligence that will make or break your chances for success (a fixed mindset).
I’m a learner, so this way of framing personal development really resonated with me. But I also see in myself the roadblocks that I repeatedly hit and can’t figure my way past. Carol’s explanation of growth and fixed mindsets can apply to different areas of your life and you may be growth oriented in some parts of your life while you still have a fixed mindset in other areas. Her conclusion is that people with a growth oriented mindset are more successful because they believe they can influence their world for change, learn to adapt to new situations and learn from mistakes because they don’t internalize failure as the end of the road, just a blip along the way.
Growth oriented people have also learned that hard work has a stronger influence on success than talent. There are a lot of talented people out there who do not accomplish much because they don’t have self-discipline, a strong work ethic or the tenacity to stick at something when the going gets tough. We will never hear about their talent because they’re not willing to work hard enough to make something of it. Fixed-mindset people achieve less because they think they are limited by the current set of skills and personality traits they have and that they can’t do any better. Because they see their personal resources as fixed and limited, they internalize failure as a comment on their personal worth and let it stop them from progressing. They may also see their innate talent as ‘enough’ and expect the world to bring success to them, but how often does that happen.
What is your mindset? How do you see your skills and your opportunities for changing the world around you? Do you think that your talent is enough or are you going to work to make something of it? Do you think failure reflects badly on you or is part of the path to success? I’ve spent a good portion of my life thinking that my smarts could make everything I wanted happen, but as I’ve grown and worked in a variety of companies, the only common dominators I’ve found in my successes have been how quickly I can dust myself off when I make mistakes and how willing I am to work hard to learn what I need to do next.